Disclaimers: Characters belong to Paramount and Viacom and do not, whatsoever, belong to me. The story however, is completely mine. The song "Possession," belongs to Sarah McLachlan and Nerwerk Records. This is a coda to "Thirty Days." Everyone elseon the PTF List, had thought up of wonderful stories, and that (along with my Tylenol Cold and Flu medication), helped me dream this up. Parts may remind you of one of my previous stories, but I did not realise this, until I was finished, so please bear with me. Rated PG for harsh language. Thanks go to Tracy and Isabelle, for beta-reading this for me.
This story, if very much like the other storyof the same title. There have been changes made to this story, but not much in many circumstances. However, this will be considered as an Alternate Universe, as at the end, Tom expands on something, and is more expressive, than what he normally is. I was originally going to post one, but many suggested posting both, and let others decide which they like the best.
Premise: Coda to "Thirty Days." Tom‘s been out of the brig for three weeks, but something‘s not quite right. B‘Elanna wants to get to the bottom of Tom‘s melancholy behaviour and help him. But will he let her in?Possession of One‘s Soul
"In the fell clutch of circumstance,
I have not winced nor cried aloud;
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed."
W.E. Henley, "Echoes."
It had been three weeks since Tom had been let out of the brig.
Twenty-one days, since his thirty days of hell, had finished.
And B‘Elanna was worried.
Something was wrong.
The Tom of now, seemed like the one of a little over four years ago. He was keeping people at length.
And it hurt.
She now had an inkling, of how Tom must have felt, when she had shut him out.
And she did not like it.
He was shutting out her, Harry, Neelix, Tuvok, Chakotay—well, they had never been a member of each other‘s fan club to begin with—and the Captain...
B‘Elanna knew that the two Command officers had had a close relationship. She had guessed that part of it was because of their similar backgrounds; of the fact that Tom had claimed to her over and over and over again, that it was Captain Janeway, who had saved him.
And now, in B‘Elanna‘s mind, that very same Captain, had betrayed him.
The Captain did not know him.
He was nothing like his father.
Was she expecting him to be?
She just wanted to scream out in anger and rage, against the Captain. She wanted to throttle the senior officer and throw her out of the nearest airlock! Janeway was responsible for not seeing the bigger picture, for not seeing Tom for who he was.
For not believing that maybe, Tom should have followed his conscience. For not thinking that maybe at times, the Prime Directive, was wrong to follow.
The Prime Directive.
How many times had Janeway violated the Prime Directive? Too many for Starfleet, B‘Elanna supposed.Forfeit.She could not see Captain Janeway, in the same light again. As a woman of compassion, of a mother to all of her children. This had ended, when she had uttered that one word.
Did that not mean the same as expendable?
She was sure that it was.
At least, that was how she took it.
She knew that Harry did.Forfeit.She knew that Harry felt the same. Tom was his ‚big brother,‘ his best friend. Janeway had preached about how the "family had to stick together." Well, ‚Mama Janeway,‘ had tried to kill his big brother.
Expendable.Forfeit.Tom was only doing, what everyone else had wanted to do! She could understand the demotion and a need to punish him, but she had gone too far. Tom had changed because of his incarceration.
And for that, he could not forgive her.
And neither could B‘Elanna.
Oh, they could get past it—or at least try to.
But not forgive.
And definitely, not forget.
And Janeway had sensed this, too.
B‘Elanna thought of how formal Tom was to the Captain.
How formal he was to everyone.
He was in pain, god damn it! And he was not going to anyone!
Something was really bothering him, and he would not even turn to her.
She felt like crying.
She really felt like crying.
Even when they spent the night together, he never really slept. He mostly got up and read a book. And when he did sleep, he just tossed and turned.
He had been getting dreams, nightmares.
And denying this.
Janeway, seemed to be calling Tom by his first name—and for that, B‘Elanna was glad. Apparently, the Captain realised that maybe she had gone a bit too far. But Tom was still distant to his Captain, and as he once said to B‘Elanna in a frank moment, he did not know if he could have the same type of friendship with the Captain, again. He insisted that he deserved the punishment, and welcomed it. This was how things ran on a Starship, in Starfleet.
Was it her imagination, or was Janeway becoming more like Captain Bligh, lately?
Last year, she became more driven. After the void, in some ways, she had changed. Besides being more driven, she was becoming more distant towards the crew, becoming more harsh.
And the crew noticed this.
They did not like this, what was happening to their Captain.
But would not say anything.
It seemed that not even Chakotay, would say anything.
Janeway was also more formal with B‘Elanna, as she sensed that the half-Klingon would not be very good company.
‚Good,‘ smugged B‘Elanna. She did not care.30 days in the Brig.Expendable.
Been out for 21.
Tom tried not to let people get so close. To not notice that anything was wrong.
It did not work.
Especially for her and Harry.
Both had noticed that Tom would sometimes become totally silent, letting everyone forget that he was even there. He had also taken the habit of going into the holodeck and locking the doors. Worried, Harry and herself had followed him several times. They were relieved to find out, that the safety protocols had been left on, but they could not break in.
Apparently, opening locked doors, was not the only thing that Tom had learned in prison.
He could also lock out people.
The program designation did not reveal much, as it was simply labelled, ‚Paris-Sigma-Bravo-2369.‘
Neither engineer had ever heard of that program, before.
And they did not know, if they wanted to.
Every time Tom had come back from his nightly holodeck excursions, B‘Elanna would find him more...melancholy, more sad. She hated to see him like this.
And he would not talk to her.
She had gone to Chakotay for advice, and even he was worried.
But he could not do anything.
Tom had just given him a cold, dark, dangerous look, when the subject was brought up.
And she also felt the same look.
But in addition, there was also betrayal.So she never spoke of it again.Before, she could have gone to Captain Janeway, but no more.
She was afraid to.
So was everyone else.
Captain Janeway helped precipitate this.
What could she say or do to make anything better?Nothing.Forfeit.
B‘Elanna closed her eyes at these words. She felt tears coming through her eyelids.
‚No!‘ her mind cried out. ‚You have to be out of your mind, to believe that Tom is expendable! If I‘m not, than how can you think that he is?‘
She opened her eyes, and the tears flowed more smoothly into the silence that filled the room.
Tom‘s quarters, with no Tom in it.
It was 02:00.
She did not have to wonder where he was.
She did not have to ask the computer.
She knew the answer: Holodeck Two.
He was supposed to have met her earlier, but had cancelled out. No excuses were given. The fact that he had told her over his commbadge, did not make things any easier.
She quickly wiped her eyes, as she walked over to the lavatory. After washing her face, she left.
She vowed to herself, that this would be resolved tonight; that she would do anything in her power to get Tom to talk.She had to.As she got off of the turbolift, her resolve began to quiver, but she held on. Finally, she arrived at her destination.
She needed to.
He had to.
He needed to.
And she would be there for him.
As long as she was alive, she would always be there for him.
She hoped that he realised that, too.
"Computer, open the doors. Torres-Alpha-Gold-3." She held her back straighter, intending to fight any confrontations. The doors opened, and she went inside.
She found herself facing a house, Mediterranean-style. As she approached the front door, she could hear a piano playing a soft, dark melody. It was...haunting. It felt sad.
B‘Elanna looked through the front window and saw Tom playing that said melody, his eyes closed. His body was slightly shaking, but it did not affect his playing. As she turned the door know, he began to sing."Listen as the wind blows,He stopped singing, but continued playing. B‘Elanna felt as if he had omitted something, but did not know what. It did not matter. She felt that what was need to be said, was being done so. As she came closer, she noticed a single tear come down his cheek. Her tears started to fall, once more.
from across the great divide.
Voices trapped in yearning,
memories trapped in time.
The night is my companion,
and solitude my guide.
Would I spend forever here,
and not be satisfied?"
Once inside, B‘Elanna trudged softly towards Tom.
Easy for her to listen to, and follow along."Through this world I‘ve stumbled,‚Oh, god,‘ B‘Elanna thought with a shake, as he paused in singing once again. The way he was singing... She knew that he could sing, as he had sung to her before in private. This was something that he did not want anyone to know, something about him. She had felt elated, that he trusted her with this.
so many times betrayed.
Trying to find an honest word to find,
the truth enslaved.
Oh, you speak to me in riddles and,
you speak to me in rhyme.
My body aches to breath your breath,
your words keep me alive."
But she did know that he could sing with such sorrow, in his voice. With such emotion (and not of the joyous kind, either). Tom‘s voice—like the music—was haunting, yet very beautiful. Eloquent. Melancholic. She remained silent. In a way, it seemed as though this was a way to work things out. Tom‘s eyes remained closed, as she took in every word."Into this night I wander,B‘Elanna wiped her tears, and tried hard not to sniff. She knew that it was unsanitary, but wiped her nose on her sleeve anyway.
it‘s morning that I dread.
Another day of knowing of,
the path I fear to tread.
Oh, into the sea of waking dreams,
I follow without pride.
‚Cause nothing stands between us here,
and I won‘t be denied."
Tom meanwhile, kept on playing. The lone tear, had become no more. His eyes remained closed.
She choose to step towards him, at the same time as he stopped playing. She winced as she heard her heel hit the floor. Tom opened his eyes, turned around, and saw her.
"Hey," B‘Elanna said, not knowing what to say. ‚Hey?‘ she mentally berated herself. ‚That‘s all you can say?‘
"Hey, yourself," Tom replied, as he closed the lid of the piano. As he pushed the piano bench back, he reached for the glass of red wine, that was sitting on the piano. B‘Elanna had never noticed it.
"I‘m sorry for intruding," B‘Elanna began, "But—"
"Are you?" Tom interrupted, as he went past the piano. He stopped at a doorway, and waited for her to catch up. At least, she hoped that was the reason.
"Am I what?"
"Sorry for intruding?" Tom clarified. He gazed at her.
"No," B‘Elanna answered, as she reached him. "I‘m not."
Tom gave a small smile. "I didn‘t think so." He looked towards the doorway before him. "After you."
"You‘re so kind, sir," she played.
"Well little lady, my mammy did try to civilise me," Tom said in a Southern drawl. "But between you and me," he continued in a Russian accent, "I do not think that she quite succeeded."
"You do yourself little credit, Tom." B‘Elanna sat down at a kitchen table. "You really do her justice."
Tom snorted at this, as he looked down at her. "Yeah. Right. Would you like something to drink? A glass of wine, perhaps?" As she hesitated, Tom tilted his head. "I can drink alone, but don‘t want to right now. Besides, you want me to talk and I refuse to drink alone."
"Sure, why not?"
Tom smiled, as he went to the cupboard. As he poured her a glass of wine, B‘Elanna looked around, curious.
Tom sensed her curiosity. "It‘s my grandparents place. In Italy." He gave her the glass as he sat down. "San Francisco never really felt like home, but this place...this place did. It was full of love and acceptance. No matter how mad everyone was at each other."
B‘Elanna laughed at this and took a sip. "She had great taste."
Tom looked around him. "That she did. She‘s a great person."
"Never doubted it for a moment."
"Tom, what was that about?" B‘Elanna asked.
Tom stared at his beverage. "What do you think it was?"
"A song for starters," was the reply. "But there was something more to it."
"Very astute of you, to notice that," Tom commended.
"I‘ve been dating you for a year now, trying to figure you out. I have to be astute with you." Tom smiled. "This is really hitting you hard," she began, as he knew what she meant. "And it hurts me, to be left out like this." Tom remained silent. "Now I know how you felt, when I was depressed."
Tom looked up. "No, you don‘t."
B‘Elanna swallowed. "True, I don‘t. And unless you get depressed like I did, I doubt that I‘ll ever know. But I can see that you‘re on your way to becoming depressed right now, and I don‘t want that for you!"
"I can deal with this," he said softly.
"You can," the half-Klingon admitted. She took one of his hands. "But you have me to lean on."
"You had me to lean on also, but you didn‘t."
"What is this?" B‘Elanna cried out. "You do onto me, what I did onto you?"
"No!" Tom yelled, as he twisted his way out of the chair. He went to the big kitchen window and faced it. "I haven‘t...always had someone to lean on. I‘m not used to it. And whenever I do..." He turned from it. "Do you remember that song, that I was just singing?"
B‘Elanna got up and went to him. "Yes," she answered, noticing the myriad of emotions filling his eyes.
"‘Through this world I‘ve stumbled, so many times betrayed.‘" He turned back to face the window. "That describes me to a ‚T.‘ And I hate that. I mean, I really hate that." B‘Elanna went to his side, and touched his arm. Tom closed his eyes. "That song—or what I sang of it—in some ways, describes me. I thought that I had left all of that behind, but obviously I didn‘t."
"What made you think of this now?" B‘Elanna inquired, as she forcibly turned Tom to face her. "What‘s making you think differently?"
"Janeway." The answer hit B‘Elanna hard, and it made her hate the Captain with all of her might, at that moment. "The way, she looked at me, with that...coldness. Harshness. Unforgiving. It reminded me of my father. Of the way that he always was, to me."
"B‘Elanna, you don‘t understand."
"You‘re right, I don‘t," she admitted. "But I want to."
"Dad always had high hopes for me—everyone knew that. I was the ‚Golden-Boy;‘ the one who could do no wrong. Yeah, well, Dad didn‘t see it that way. I did everything wrong."
"Go on," she said.
"I don‘t want you to think...that I‘m putting the blame on my dad. I take most of the blame. I didn‘t have to do anything that I didn‘t want to."
"Then why did you?"
"Because I had to. Because it was expected of me." He leaned against the counter. "I‘m not explaining myself right."
"Take your time," B‘Elanna advised him.
Tom took her hand and looked onto the floor. "I‘ve always felt like a failure. That nothing I could ever say or do, was right. I was to meet high expectations. And I didn‘t."
"What happened if you didn‘t?"
"I felt worthless. I was told that it was not good enough, that I had to do better. Nothing was good enough. Nothing."
"And your father, made you feel this way," B‘Elanna finished flatly.
"Whenever I had disappointed him, he made it know. Verbally. But I don‘t know what was worse; the words, or his posture, or his facial expression when he said it. Or his eyes. I felt like dying every time that happened. So I tried to study harder. I had to do better. I had to be the best in my class. That was the only time he was ever happy with me. At least, I think he was. He never said anything then, either."
"He never said anything when you did well, either?"
Tom opened his eyes and gazed into those of B‘Elanna‘s. "No."
She grasped his hand harder. "How bad was it?"
"Oh, how does making you feel that you‘re worthless, sound? That there are all of these expectations on you, and that you don‘t fulfill any of them. That you are a failure."
"That‘s pretty harsh."
Tom gave a bitter laugh. "And the kicker of this, is that he probably didn‘t even know what he was doing, either."
"That‘s how I feel, right now. Like a failure. Worthless."
B‘Elanna looked in shock. "What?" she asked. "How are you a failure? How are you worthless?" Tom tore his hand away from B‘Elanna‘s and walked out of the room. She followed him. "Tom," she called out, as he went out the back door. "Tom! How are you a failure?"
Tom got as far as the entrance to a huge garden, when he turned around.
"How? How am I a failure? Ha! You even have to ask that? I failed
B‘Elanna! I failed what I had gone out to do! Did I destroy the oxygen
generating plants? No! I failed that! I also failed the Captain, when
I didn‘t return when I had the chance! I failed to think of the
consequences thoroughly enough—"
"Stop!" B‘Elanna yelled. "You did think of the consequences! I know you well enough, that you would think of them! You just didn‘t think that she would go that far! None of us did!"
"I knew that I would get into major trouble, when I went with Riga; when
"Stop, Tom. Stop torturing yourself, with ‚What ifs,‘ and "What could have beens.‘ You don‘t have to put yourself through this."
Tom gave a bitter laugh. "But don‘t you see, B‘Elanna? I have to. I‘ve done this whenever something had gone wrong in my life; when I failed something or someone. This is something that I can‘t break very easily. I thought that I was getting away from this, but I can‘t. I‘m not sure if I want to anymore."
"Tom," B‘Elanna started. Tom‘s last statement unnerved her. "You may have failed in destroying the plants, but they would have had to give the people an explanation for moving them! Who do you think that they‘ll believe, the government or Riga?"
"The government," Tom replied sourly.
"Some may," she conceded. "But not all."
Tom moved to sit on a nearby bench. B‘Elanna followed. "Maybe."
"Now that we‘ve got that settled, how are you worthless?"
"You‘re not going to give up easily, are you?"
"There‘s my answer. How am I worthless?" He put his elbows on his knees and clasped his hands together, between his legs and mumbled something.
"Pardon me?" B‘Elanna asked.
"Expendable." B‘Elanna froze. "I‘m expendable. Came straight from the Captain‘s mouth herself. Harry told me. "As far as I‘m concerned, he forfeited his status as a protected member of this crew, the second he launched that shuttle." Forfeit is the same as expendable. He said that no one else believed that for a moment. But she did. And that really hurts."
"For what?" Tom looked up at her. "You can‘t change the past, anymore than I can. Besides, she would probably say the same thing over again."
"I know," she agreed softly. And she did. Janeway had taken this too personally. Way to personally.
"She still respects my father, big time. She doesn‘t know what he could be like. How misguided he was, about his kids. Especially on how to raise them." He shook his head. "I‘m sorry for rambling, I‘m just tired."
"You haven‘t been sleeping well—if at all, at times. You need your rest, Tom."
"Your place or mine?" he queried with a smile.
"Mine," she replied, as he got up.
"I promise not to ravage your body, tonight."
B‘Elanna laughed. "I don‘t think that you could right now."
"You‘re right on that," Tom agreed, as he wobbled a bit.
They were silent on the trip to B‘Elanna‘s quarters, and even as they changed into night-time clothing. It was only when they were in bed, that B‘Elanna felt like speaking again.
"Tom?" she asked, snug in Tom‘s arms.
"Hmmm?" he mumbled, as he stroked her hair.
"What you sang, you said that it described you. How?"
Tom stayed silent for a few moments, gathering his thoughts. "Listen as the wind blows, from across the great divide," he began to sing softly. "Voices trapped in yearning, memories trapped in time. The night is my companion, and solitude my guide. Would I spend forever here, and not be satisfied?"
"I‘m not sure of whether to like it or hate it."
"Do what I do; do both," Tom suggested.
"So, how does this apply to you?" B‘Elanna pressed.
"‘The great divide.‘ Describes my father and I perfectly, don‘t you think?"
"Yes," B‘Elanna agreed, wondering where this was going. "‘Voices trapped in yearning‘?"
"‘Memories trapped in time,‘" he finished. "Self-explanatory. My voice was always yearning, but I never said anything. I never spoke out. I just did what I was told. As for ‚Memories trapped in time,‘ well, you know the answer for that."
"I suppose I do. ‚The night is my companion‘?"
"‘And solitude my guide.‘ I felt that the only time I could be myself, was at night. When everything was dark; when vision was obscured. Then no one would be able to see me, for who I really was."
"A failure. Worthless."
Tom nodded in the dark. "That‘s part of it. But another part of it, was that at times, I felt like a big fake. I was ‚Owen Paris‘s Wonder-Boy.‘ They were told such ‚wonderful and glowing‘ things about me, and I knew it. I felt that I had to live up to them. And that I couldn‘t. As for ‚And solitude my guide;‘ even though I‘m more of a people-person, I do like to spend some time alone, occasionally."
"But that‘s not all."
"True, it‘s not. Sometimes, solitude can be a great source of inspiration. A way of finding yourself. A way to be alone. Or a way or torturing yourself. Am I making any sense?"
"But not really? For that one, I can‘t really answer. It‘s something that you have to feel. It can‘t be put into words, very easily."
"That I can accept, and even understand," B‘Elanna said.
"‘Would I spend forever here, and not be satisfied?‘ Well, I couldn‘t really think of anything for that, so I just came up with my father. Would he ever be satisfied with me? If Caldik Prime did not happen, would he ever have been satisfied with me, or with my career, had it not been scuttled?"
"What about the other verses?"
"‘Through this world I‘ve stumbled, so many times betrayed. Trying to find an honest word to find, the truth enslaved. Oh, you speak to me in riddles and, you speak to me in rhymes. My body aches to breath your breath, your words keep me alive,‘" Tom sang once more. "I‘ve been betrayed by so many people, B‘Elanna, by people who were supposed to stand by me. My father, my sisters, Dad‘s side of the family. After Caldik Prime, only Mom‘s family wanted me. And was I ever grateful for that! They were my lifeline! Well, them and Sandrine and Nicola—her bouncer and my friend. They were not afraid to be seen with me. My paternal grandfather, told me in very subtle terms, that while I was still accepted and acknowledged as a Paris, I was one who had fallen from grace. They made me feel like I was worthless; that I should have been happy that they still ‚acknowledged‘ me. I hated them for that. And my sisters followed them. Well, Moira at first—but she later came around. Kathleen, had only uttered a few words to me, before Janeway got me out of Auckland." B‘Elanna moved her arm, to throw it across Tom‘s chest and pulled herself closer.
"‘Trying to find an honest word to find, the truth enslaved.‘ I wanted to admit to Caldik Prime so much, but I couldn‘t. I couldn‘t disappoint my father. I couldn‘t let him know that I was still a failure. I wanted him to be proud of me. Like you."
"I‘m glad that you realise that," B‘Elanna spoke.
"I do, and I‘m grateful for it." Tom paused. "It also reminds me of my family, Dad‘s family and Starfleet. Well, that and ‚Oh, you speak to me in riddles and, you speak to me in rhyme.‘ There are so many things that you have to dance around, that it‘s not funny. You can twist the Prime Directive to suit you whenever you feel like it—you can find a way to get yourself involved; and just follow it to the letter, when you don‘t want to become involved. When you don‘t want to face something. When you want to leave it to others." He paused again. "As for, ‚My body aches to breathe your breath, your words keep me alive,‘ once again, it reminds me of Dad. Whatever Dad said, I had to do it. I ached for him to say that I had done something right, that I was not a failure at something. Piloting was the only thing that he took an active interest in. I couldn‘t fail at that. Whenever he even hinted that I did something right—which was not too often—that was what I lived for. Pretty pathetic, huh?"
"No," B‘Elanna answered. "You were just like every other kid; you want to please your parent. You thrived on it. I can remember doing stuff like that."
Tom grimaced. "I‘m sorry for what happened between you and your dad. I wish that I could do something."
"Well, as you said, there‘s no way for us to change the past, so you really can‘t."
"We must be indoctrinated as kids. As a child, we want to please our parents so much, that the first time we see this giant, hulking mass peer down at us, with anger or hatred in their eyes...it hurts. And it‘s the scariest thing that we ever saw. We‘ll do anything we can, so that we won‘t have to see that again; so that they‘ll be happy at us. So that they‘ll love us."
"I can understand the first part, but ‚so that they‘ll love us?‘"
"I‘m not sure about you, but when my Dad got angry...cold nothingness, were in his eyes. Hatred even. There was no love shown, and not for a while afterwards, too. I felt that whenever he got angry at me, it meant that he didn‘t love me. I couldn‘t bear that."
"I‘m sorry. No child should feel like that. I mean hey, even I knew that my mother loved me—despite all of our arguments."
"‘Into this night I wander, it‘s morning that I dread. Another day of knowing of, the path I fear to tread.‘ Once again, self-explanatory. I hated the thought of waking up in the morning; of knowing that I had a pretty crummy path, to tread. I hated my life so much, B‘Elanna, that I didn‘t care if I was alive or dead at times. I just wanted the pain to end. Since I couldn‘t end my life, I deadened the pain, by drinking. As for ‚Oh, into the sea of waking dreams, I follow without pride. ‚Cause nothing stands between us here, and I won‘t be denied.‘ You won‘t believe the nightmares that I had, during that time—especially during the court-martial, after getting kicked out of Starfleet, while in the Maquis, during the trial, and prison. I bet that none of the Maquis knew that I got nightmares, every damn single night, right?"
"No," admitted B‘Elanna, hearing about this for the first time. And it scared her. "No, we never knew."
"I knew that I would have another nightmare, but would dutifully go to sleep anyway. I kept dreaming of my father. Of how he hated me. Of how he could only show contempt for me, after the court martial. That this was how he truly felt. He kept saying that I was worthless, pathetic, a failure. That I deserved to die. That I should be dead. And then I would wake up screaming, when he came towards me with a phaser, set for kill."
B‘Elanna shuddered. "Tom..."
"I know that it‘s a crazy dream, and that it wasn‘t true. But I felt that if he could, he would want this to be true. That he would enact the dream. I know it‘s crazy, but..."
"I‘m here, Tom, I‘m here," she tried to comfort.
"It‘s nothing, B‘Elanna. Really, it‘s nothing."
"No, it‘s not. Not for you, it‘s not." B‘Elanna paused for a moment. "Can you tell me something, was it me, or did the song seem incomplete at times? It seemed as though, you left parts out."
"Right once again," Tom replied, tiredly. "The chorus went, ‚And I would be the one, to hold you down. Kiss you so hard, I‘ll take you breath away, and after I‘d. Wipe away the tears, just close your eyes, dear.‘"
"How come you left them out?"
"I couldn‘t relate to them. They meant something for the original singer, not me."
"Did he go through something similar to you?"
"No," Tom answered. "*She* wrote the song, when someone sent her some pretty disturbing letters. Not quite a stalker, but close enough for her."
"She wrote this song, because of a stalker? And you can relate to it this well?" she asked incredulously.
"I explained them to you, didn‘t I? They did make sense to you, didn‘t they?"
"Well, yes, but..."
"B‘Elanna, I see that while you have done a good job trying to figure me out—and in still trying to figure me out—you still have a long way to go. And he wasn‘t really a stalker." Tom yawned. "Now, I don‘t know about you, but I‘m pretty tired. And something tells me, that maybe, I‘ll be able to get some decent sleep tonight. That is, if a certain Chief Engineer will let me," he admonished.
B‘Elanna made a face. "Okay, you need your beauty sleep. I understand."
"Hey, I‘ve never heard you complain about my looks, before."
"Sleep, Tom. Sleep."
Tom could only nod, as the Sandman lulled him into the realm of slumber.
"I love you, B‘Elanna," Tom mumbled, before falling silent.
"I love you too, Tom Paris," B‘Elanna whispered back, as she leaned her head against Tom‘s chest, and moved her hand over his heart. She felt a steady heartbeat. "And don‘t you ever forget that."